In the past couple of weeks, the Left-NIMBYs had a bit of a meltdown. And it’s illustrative of what a dead-end Left-NIMBYism is, and how more people are moving to the side of the YIMBYs. Which in turn tells us something about the emerging political economy of the United States.
I’ll get to the meltdown, but first a little background. “NIMBY”, an acronym for “Not In My Back Yard”, refers to people who don’t want to allow new development — solar plants, trains, etc., but especially housing — in their own neighborhood or city. NIMBYs come in all political flavors. Many are on the Right — this is why Tucker Carlson tries to scare his audience by telling them that Biden wants to “destroy the suburbs”. Many others are centrist, or politically disengaged.
But there are NIMBYs on the political Left, and they have an outsized importance because of where they’re located. In the U.S., urban areas tend to lean to the left. So in deep blue cities like San Francisco that struggle the most with high rent, the people who oppose new housing tend to also lean to the left (as do the YIMBYs, the advocates of more housing/transit and greater density.) YIMBYs and Left-NIMBYs tend to be neighbors, and so they tend to come into direct conflict very frequently.